" I always felt that the transistor was really partly an invention of Gibney who was an electrical engineer." -- Russell Ohl, August 1976.  (p.55)]



Robert Gibney

Wilmington, DE; 1911

Robert Gibney worked  in William Shockley's lab when the point-contact transistor was invented.  He doesn't usually get credit as one of the inventors of the transistor -- but some of his experiments and much of his advice were crucial to building the final product. 

Gibney was born in Wilmington, DE on August 30, 1911.  His undergraduate degree was in Metallurgy from the University of Delaware, and his Ph.D. was in Physical Chemistry from Northwestern University.  He began working at Bell Labs right out of graduate school in 1936.  He worked in the chemistry department on storage batteries until 1945. Then he was transferred into a newly-formed lab for solid state science headed by William Shockley.

Gibney closely followed the work of Brattain and Bardeen during the "miracle month" in 1947 that culminated in the invention of the point-contact transistor.  He helped build special configurations of crystals for Bardeen and Brattain's experiments and he gave several key suggestions to help along their thinking. 

Gibney did not stay at Bell Labs for long after the invention of the transistor.  In the spring of 1948, he took a job at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico, hoping the climate would help his wife's asthma condition.  In 1952, he was promoted to group leader of the Los Alamos metallurgy department. 

-- Crystal Fire by Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson 
-- Russell Ohl interview with Lillian Hoddeson, August 1976.  AIP
-- American Men and Women of Science, 1972 edition
-- "The Genesis of the Transistor, Memorandum for Record" by W.S. Gorton in A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System: Physical Sciences (1925-1980), S. Millman, ed.


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